The Sanctity of Truth
Text: John’ Gospel
Proposition: God is the source of all truth and He communicates truth to us in the Word, in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, making truth sacred.
Introduction: It is often said that the first casualty of war is truth. In the Second World War the Nazi’s literally re wrote the history books, changing the facts and events of recorded history to better support their beliefs. After the war a similar tactic was still used to deny that the Holocaust, the systematic murder of over six million Jews had ever taken place. We are very much involved in a war, a spiritual war whose influences run deep. Post-modernism is a term used to describe cultural trends in western societies, which challenge and reject any notions of absolute truth. The church has also become mired in this relativism as it wrestles with a great number of issues that all stem back to an understanding of truth being an absolute. There’s a saying that goes, “Truth is Truth even if no one believes it and a Lie is a Lie even if everyone believes it.” The church today is struggling with truth which in essence means it is struggling like Jacob with God Himself. The Sanctity of Truth is the sixth Hot Potato and it covers a host of sub topics. Let’s use the Gospel of John to help guide us through a number of these aspects of truth.
I. Truth Confronts Pluralism, Jesus Is Not Just Truthful, He Is Truth.
Have a look at John 1: 12-14, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” What these verses proclaim is that the only way to become a child of God, a euphemism for eternal life, is to believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior. To clarify that it says that it’s not about genetics, not which family of belief you were raised in, not blood. It’s not about esthetics, what you do that’s good and beneficial to mankind, the will of the flesh. It’s not even about religion, the rules of do’s and don’ts and various spiritual rituals, the will of man. It’s only about the action of God upon you and in you. You can’t save yourself only God can do that, which is why the next verse says what it does. God incarnate, deity in flesh, came that we would not only know God in very specific terms but we would also see Him. We beheld His glory, a particular revealing of Who Jesus is as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace (the ultimate form of which was the cross) and truth. Jesus was full, complete, nothing lacking, perfect in terms of grace and truth. Perfect truth is always sinless as is perfect grace. Why is this a key point for the church today, what truth is being eroded here? The answer to that is pluralism, the thought that there are many ways to righteousness. The point here is that truth is who God is, Jesus is God and not only embodies truth but presents it as the Father sent Him to do. No other man, religion, nor ethic can bring a person into being righteous before the Father. The church will be assaulted with pluralism and it will be increasingly unpopular to claim that Jesus is the only way to God, the only God to be worshipped.
II. Truth Is About the Balance of Natural Needs in a Supernatural World.
Let’s look at John 4: 23, 24, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” To this we add verse 48, “Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you peoplesee signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” In the first part of this passage Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman in Samaria, a Gentile. For her it was more about the practical do’s and don’ts of faith, the reality of the spiritual was a theological acknowledgement but not a present reality. In verse 48 Jesus is in Cana of Galilee speaking with a Jewish man whose son is at the point of death. The rebuke of Jesus here seems to be out of place, the man’s son was dying, surely compassion was what was required here. Don’t forget that Jesus sees the heart, He sees unbelief, He sees the self sufficiency of our hearts and He sees our need. The woman and the man, the Gentile and the Jew picture for us the opposites of being focused on the natural world verses the need to have signs and wonders to authenticate God’s power and presence. You might even say that the Samaritan woman is a lot like the church in the first world today, very practical, having a theological belief in the reality of the spiritual realm but not really very connected to it. The Jewish man is a lot more like the church in the Third world, very attuned to the reality of the spiritual world and eager for signs and wonders to be manifested as a confirmation of God’s ability and existence. Both positions are unbalanced, both lack the truth that God is spirit and can be worshipped only in spirit, that is with the engagement of your spirit being directed by the Holy Spirit to rejoice and glorify the truth of Who He is. What is the danger in being too theologically conservative? It’s a belief in a god that is extremely accommodating to our lifestyle. Paul warned Timothy about what this will look like in the last days, describing men as being lovers of self rather than lovers of God, they have the appearance of godliness but deny the power of God to act. The other half of this is equally dangerous, to be so focused upon signs and wonders as the authentication of God’s presence that we are prone to deception. In 2 Thess. 2:9 Paul warns us about the strategy of the anti Christ who will seduce the church and cause it to distort it’s doctrine of truth. He says, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.” Truth demands the balance of natural needs while at the same time believing that we live in a supernatural world in the presence of a supernatural God.
III. Truth Is About Knowing the Future and Distinguishing It From the Past.
It was just after they had eaten the last Passover, just after Peter had said that he would never deny Christ. In John 14 Jesus assured the disciples that He would return for them, that He would prepare a place for them. Then He said this, “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Well where He was going was clear, it was ‘in My Father’s house’. But the way He was going to get there was not clear to them at this moment. They didn’t understand that Jesus meant He was about to die and then be resurrected from the dead and then ascend to the right hand of the Father. They didn’t understand that when He said He was going to come again and receive them to Himself, He meant exactly that. This is what the truth was all about when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
One of the challenges for the church today is the debate between Preterism and Futurism. Preterism is the belief that much of the prophecy of Jesus return has already occurred, particularly at the time of the fall of Rome in AD 70. To do this they allegorize and spiritualize much of the prophecies of Daniel, Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation. In essence what it comes to mean is that the tribulation has already occurred, the rapture was not literal, the millennium is now and Christ has already come a second time allegorically speaking. Futurists on the other hand believe that the rapture, tribulation and second coming of Christ are real literal events, yet to take place in the future. Futurism has a view of interpreting Scripture from a literal, historical and grammatical set of rules. Why is this a Hot Potato for the church today, won’t it all just pan out in the end? The issue is about the way you interpret Scripture, the way you interpret Jesus promises. If you resort to allegorizing and spiritualizing the text you can then make it say whatever you want, the authority and inerrancy of Scripture becomes blurred if not lost altogether. Truth is about knowing the future and distinguishing it from the past and not just in terms of a debate between Preterism and Futurism. The word of God is more about declaring the details of your future than it is about condemning you for the events of your past. It calls you to look up, to look forwards. John 14 speaks about your future, it speaks about Heaven, it speaks about your redemption. It calls the disciples to release the past and ready themselves for the future, a very real and literal future when Christ the King will come again for His church. Listen to Paul’s words to the Roman church (Rom 8), “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
This is the truth, it’s sacred because of the One who has directed it and inspired it, it’s sacred because Jesus declared it to be so. (to be continued)